Online holiday rentals company Airbnb said Wednesday it will be blocking and canceling all reservations in the US capital city Washington, DC area, during the week of the upcoming presidential inauguration.
The decision was in response to local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, the company said in a statement.
Today we’re announcing a 7-step plan to help build trust and assist with protecting our community of hosts and guests in the greater Washington, D.C. area as we approach the Presidential Inauguration.https://t.co/vRw7FTOpOK
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) January 12, 2021
Law enforcement is hoping to avoid violence during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
On January 6, supporters of US President Donald Trump took part in a violent storming of US Capitol buildings in Washington, during a joint session of Congress to verify Biden’s presidential election win.
“We are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration,” Airbnb stated in a corporate blog.
Security around the Washington, DC has been ramped up. Around 10,000 National Guard troops will help secure the area ahead of the inauguration.
What action is Airbnb taking?
Guests whose reservations were canceled will be refunded in full. Airbnb will also reimburse hosts the money they would have earned from those canceled reservations.
Reservations at HotelTonight, a service owned by Airbnb, will also be canceled.
Airbnb declined to say how many reservations were canceled. But over Presidents’ Day weekend, the site lists more than 300 rentals in the Washington area, news agency AP reported.
The San Francisco-based company has been working with law enforcement and media to identify and ban people involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol building.
“We are continuing our work to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community,” the company said.
Are other hotels and rental sites blocking reservations?
Major hotel chains Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc and Marriott International said they planned to uphold existing reservations.
“We are monitoring the situation very closely and have operational and security plans in place,” Marriott said.
Hyatt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.